ECO-DRIVING: STRATEGIC, TACTICAL, AND OPERATIONAL DECISIONS OF THE DRIVER THAT IMPROVE VEHICLE FUEL ECONOMY

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1 UMTRI AUGUST 2011 ECO-DRIVING: STRATEGIC, TACTICAL, AND OPERATIONAL DECISIONS OF THE DRIVER THAT IMPROVE VEHICLE FUEL ECONOMY MICHAEL SIVAK BRANDON SCHOETTLE

2 ECO-DRIVING: STRATEGIC, TACTICAL, AND OPERATIONAL DECISIONS OF THE DRIVER THAT IMPROVE VEHICLE FUEL ECONOMY Michael Sivak Brandon Schoettle The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute Ann Arbor, Michigan U.S.A. Report No. UMTRI August 2011

3 1. Report No. UMTRI Technical Report Documentation Page 2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient s Catalog No. 4. Title and Subtitle Eco-Driving: Strategic, Tactical, and Operational Decisions of the Driver that Improve Vehicle Fuel Economy 7. Author(s) Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle 9. Performing Organization Name and Address The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute 2901 Baxter Road Ann Arbor, Michigan U.S.A. 12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address The University of Michigan Sustainable Worldwide Transportation 5. Report Date August Performing Organization Code Performing Organization Report No. UMTRI Work Unit no. (TRAIS) 11. Contract or Grant No. 13. Type of Report and Period Covered 14. Sponsoring Agency Code 15. Supplementary Notes The current members of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation include Aramco Services, Autoliv Electronics, Bosch, China FAW Group, FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society, General Motors, Honda R&D Americas, Meritor WABCO, Michelin Americas Research, Nissan Technical Center North America, Renault, and Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America. Information about Sustainable Worldwide Transportation is available at: Abstract This report presents information about the effects of decisions that a driver can make to influence on-road fuel economy of light-duty vehicles. These include strategic decisions (vehicle selection and maintenance), tactical decisions (route selection and vehicle load), and operational decisions (driver behavior). The results indicate that vehicle selection has by far the most dominant effect: The best vehicle currently available for sale in the U.S. is nine times more fuel efficient than the worst vehicle. Nevertheless, the remaining factors that a driver has control over can contribute, in total, to about a 45% reduction in the on-road fuel economy per driver a magnitude well worth emphasizing. Furthermore, increased efforts should also be directed at increasing vehicle occupancy, which has dropped by 30% from That drop, by itself, increased the energy intensity of driving per occupant by about 30%. 17. Key Words eco-driving, fuel economy, strategic decisions, tactical decisions, operational decisions, vehicle, driver, environment 19. Security Classification (of this report) None 20. Security Classification (of this page) None 21. No. of Pages Distribution Statement Unlimited 22. Price i

4 Acknowledgments This research was supported by Sustainable Worldwide Transportation ( The current members of this research consortium are Aramco Services, Autoliv Electronics, Bosch, China FAW Group, FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society, General Motors, Honda R&D Americas, Michelin Americas Research, Meritor WABCO, Nissan Technical Center North America, Renault, and Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America. ii

5 Contents Acknowledgments... ii Introduction... 1 Strategic decisions... 3 Selection of vehicle class... 3 Selection of vehicle model... 3 Selection of vehicle configuration... 4 Vehicle maintenance... 4 Tuned engine... 4 Tires... 4 Engine oil... 4 Tactical decisions... 5 Selection of road type... 5 Weight... 5 Operational decisions... 7 Idling... 7 Speed/rpm... 7 Use of cruise control... 7 Use of air conditioner... 7 Aggressivity of driving... 7 Discussion... 9 Summary References iii

6 Introduction The on-road fuel economy in the U.S. in 2008 for all vehicles averaged 17.4 mpg. This compares to 14.0 mpg achieved 85 years earlier in 1923 (see Figure 1). The average fuel economy for cars in 2008 was 22.6 mpg. Figure 1. Mean on-road fuel economy of vehicles in the U.S., The data for 1923 through 2006 are from Sivak and Tsimhoni (2009). The data for 2007 and 2008 are from FHWA (2008; 2009). Table 1 documents the average energy intensities of various travel modes. As indicated in Table 1, not only is driving a light-duty vehicle in the U.S. currently more energy intensive than using a bus or a train, it is also more energy intensive than flying (all at current average loads). 1

7 Table 1 Energy intensity of various travel modes (RITA, 2011a). Travel mode Btu per occupant mile Car 3,501 Other light-duty vehicle 3,980 Motorcycle 1,742 Airplane 2,931 Transit bus 2,656 AMTRAK 1,745 How can we improve on this performance? This report reviews how eco-driving enables drivers to maximize the on-road fuel economy of vehicles. In this report, ecodriving is used in its broadest sense: Eco-driving includes those strategic decisions (e.g., vehicle selection and maintenance), tactical decisions (e.g., route selection), and operational decisions (e.g., driver behavior) that improve vehicle fuel economy. 2

8 Selection of vehicle class Strategic decisions Table 2 presents the mean rated fuel economy of all available light-duty vehicles on the U.S. market for model year On average, a car has 38% better fuel economy than a pickup truck. (The data in Tables 2 through 4 were derived for this study from the information in EPA, 2011a.) Table 2 Mean rated fuel economy of model year 2011 light-duty vehicles, by class. Vehicle class Mean mpg Cars 23.7 Vans, minivans 19.4 SUVs, crossovers 19.2 Pickup trucks 17.2 Selection of vehicle model The ranges of fuel economy of individual models by vehicle class are documented in Table 3. The results show that the best car is rated as being nine times more fuel efficient than the worst car. Analogously, the best pickup truck is rated as being two times more fuel efficient than the worst pickup truck. Table 3 Fuel economy ranges of model year 2011 light-duty vehicles, by class. Vehicle class mpg Min Max Cars 11 99* Vans, minivans SUVs, crossovers Pickup trucks *The best fully electric car and the best car overall: 99 mpg; the best hybrid car: 50 mpg; the best car with internal-combustion engine: 36 mpg. 3

9 Selection of vehicle configuration There are currently 282 vehicle models for sale in the U.S. (model year 2011), with 242 models having two or more variants (e.g., engine size, number of doors, etc.). For 216 of the 242 models with two or more variants, the rated fuel economy differs among the models, depending on the variants (see Table 4). The mean range for cars is 4.3 mpg, or 18% of the mean fuel economy of all cars. Analogously, the mean range for pickup trucks is 4.9 mpg, or 28% of the mean fuel economy of all pickup trucks. Table 4 Mean number of variants and mean fuel-economy ranges of model year 2011 light-duty vehicles, by class. Vehicle class Mean number of variants Mean mpg range Cars Vans, minivans SUVs, crossovers Pickup trucks Vehicle maintenance Tuned engine. According to the EPA (2011b), fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emission test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done. Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve mileage by as much as 40% (EPA, 2011b). However, having a faulty oxygen sensor is not a frequent occurrence. Consequently, many vehicle manufacturers suggest replacement only after 100,000 miles. Tires. Rolling resistance of tires varies among different tires of the same size. TRB (2006) estimates that a 10% change in nominal rolling resistance will result in a 1-2% change in fuel economy. Furthermore, in-use rolling resistance is influenced by tire inflation, with a 1 psi drop reducing fuel economy by about 0.3% (EPA, 2011b). Engine oil. Engine oil influences vehicle mileage. For example, if 5W-30 is recommended, using 10W-30 oil can lower mileage by 1-2% (EPA, 2011b). 4

10 Tactical decisions Selection of road type Different road types result in different average speeds and different profiles of acceleration and deceleration. Consequently, fuel economy differs by road type. For example, a recent Canadian study (National Resources Canada, 2009) found that the average fuel economy on highways with a posted speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) or more is about 9% better than on other roads. Selection of grade profile Maximum grade has a strong effect on fuel economy. For example, Boriboonsomsin and Barth (2009) found that, in a particular scenario with the same origin and destination but two alternative routes, a flat route yielded 15-20% better fuel economy than a hilly route. Dealing with congestion Congestion can be considered within the context of route selection as well because drivers in some situations can avoid congested routes. The Highway Capacity Manual (TRB, 2000) classifies level-of-service (i.e., congestion) into the following six categories: A (free flow), B (reasonably free flow), C (stable flow), D (approaching unstable flow), E (unstable flow), and F (forced or breakdown flow). Using these levelof-service categories, Facanha s analysis (2009) indicates that, depending on vehicle type and road type, the reduction in fuel economy from service level A to service level F can range from 20-40%. Furthermore, that study shows that the largest drop in fuel economy is from service level E to service level F. Weight According to the EPA (2011c), an extra 100 pounds in a vehicle (e.g., extra cargo) can reduce fuel economy by up to 2%, with smaller vehicles being affected more. 5

11 On a related note, the average adult in the U.S. in 2002 was about 24 pounds heavier than in 1960 (Ogden, Fryar, Carroll, and Flegel, 2004). This weight gain results in a reduction in fuel economy of up to about 0.5%. 6

12 Operational decisions Idling Idling uses a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour (EPA, 2011c), depending on engine size and accessories in use. Edmunds recommends turning off the engine when the expected idle time is more than a minute (Edmunds, 2005), while according to the EPA (2011c), it only takes a few seconds worth of fuel to restart your engine. In one specific test, Edmunds (2005) found that turning the engine off during each of 10 idle periods lasting two minutes each on a 10-mile course improved mileage by 19%. Speed/rpm For most internal-combustion engines, fuel economy is an inverted-u-shaped function of speed/rpm. For example, a particular V6 engine used in 2007 Honda Accords produced, in naturalistic driving, peak fuel economy of 31.6 mpg at 61 mph, with the fuel economy dropping to 21.2 mpg at 90 mph (a drop of 33%) and 21.8 mpg at 30 mph (a drop of 31%) (LeBlanc, Sivak, and Bogard, 2010). Use of cruise control Edmunds (2005) estimates that using cruise control improves mileage at highway speeds by about 7%. Use of air conditioner Using the air conditioner can reduce mileage by 5-25% (EPA, 2011d; Wilbers, 1999). However, when not using the air conditioner is paired with opening the window(s), the increased aerodynamic drag above a certain speed can more than compensate for the fuel savings (Haworth and Symmons, 2001). Aggressivity of driving In a test performed by Edmunds (2005), moderate driving yielded, on average, 31% better mileage than aggressive driving. 7

13 LeBlanc et al. (2010) found in naturalistic driving that, for both speed keeping and accelerating from rest, the 10 th and 90 th percentile mileage of individual drivers using the same vehicle differed by about 20%, although some of that variation is expected to result from factors other than the degree of aggressive driving. 8

14 Discussion Table 5 summarizes the effects of factors influencing vehicle fuel economy. As is evident from Table 5, the factor with the largest effect is vehicle-model selection. Table 5 Summary of the effects of factors influencing vehicle fuel economy. Level Factor Effect Vehicle class 38% Strategic Tactical Operational 800% all cars; 355% cars excluding fully electric; Vehicle model 227% cars excluding fully electric and hybrids; 100% all pickups Vehicle configuration 18% cars, 28% pickups Out-of-tune engine 4-40% Tires with 25% higher rolling resistance 3-5% Tires underinflated by 5 psi 1.5% Improper engine oil 1-2% Route selection: road type variable Route selection: grade profile 15-20% Route selection: congestion 20-40% Carrying extra 100 pounds 2% Idling variable Driving at very high speeds 30% Not using cruise control Using air conditioner 5-25% Aggressive driving 20-30% 7% (while at highway speeds) 9

15 The importance of vehicle-model selection is illustrated by the following example. Let's consider the least fuel-efficient car (11 mpg), and the most fuel-efficient car with an internal-combustion engine (36 mpg). Let's further assume that the driver of the car with the worst mileage follows all remaining good eco-driving practices, while the driver of the car with the best mileage disregards all of them. Following the remaining best eco-driving practices will result in no change in fuel economy for the car that gets 11 mpg; the nominal and actual fuel economy will be the same. By contrast, the car that nominally gets 36 mpg will experience a reduction to 19.8 mpg in actual fuel economy (a reduction of 45%) as a result of disregarding all remaining eco-driving practices, as shown in Table 6. Table 6 Cumulative effects of disregarding good eco-driving practices (after vehicle selection) on the most fuel-efficient car with an internal-combustion engine. Factor (effect on performance) Fuel economy (mpg) Nominal performance 36.0 Aggressive driving a (25% drop) 27.0 Driving at excessively high speeds b (6% drop) 25.4 Route selection (road type, grade, and congestion) c (6% drop) 23.9 Out-of-tune engine d (4% drop) 22.9 Tires with increased rolling resistance e (4% drop) 22.0 Using air conditioner f (4% drop) 21.1 Excessive idling g (2% drop) 20.7 Extra weight h (1.5% drop) 20.4 Improper oil (1.5% drop) 20.1 Under-inflated tires i (1.5% drop) 19.8 a Not using cruise control included. b Driving at very high speeds on 20% of the total distances driven. c Two possible routes (with different road types, grade profiles, and/or levels of congestion) are available 20% of the total distance driven. d Faulty oxygen sensor (infrequent in relatively new vehicles) could result in a fuel- economy drop of 40%. e Replacement tires with 25% higher rolling resistance than originally equipped tires. f Used during 25% of the total distance driven. At very high speeds the windows are up. g Turning off the engine during two 1-minute idle periods per each 10 miles. h Extra 100 pounds of cargo. i Underinflation of all four tires by 5 psi. 10

16 The information in Table 6 can be interpreted as the cup being half full or the cup being half empty. On one hand, one can conclude that decisions concerning vehicleselection are dominant for on-road fuel economy. On the other hand, one can also conclude that not following the remaining good eco-driving practices can still lead to a major reduction in on-road fuel economy cumulatively by about 45%. The analysis in this report concentrated on fuel economy per vehicle. However, the average occupancy of a light-duty vehicle in the U.S. dropped from 2.0 in 1960 to 1.4 in 2009 (RITA, 2011b). This represents a 30% drop in vehicle fuel economy per occupant (before adjusting for different occupant weight). Consequently, increased carpooling, to at least the level of the 1960s, would go a long way to improve the energy intensity of driving per occupant. 11

17 Summary This report presented information about the effects of decisions that a driver can make to influence on-road fuel economy of light-duty vehicles. These include strategic decisions (vehicle selection and maintenance), tactical decisions (route selection and vehicle load), and operational decisions (driver behavior). The results indicate that vehicle selection has by far the most dominant effect: The best vehicle currently available for sale in the U.S. is nine times more fuel efficient than the worst vehicle. Nevertheless, the remaining factors that a driver has control over can contribute, in total, to about a 45% reduction in the on-road fuel economy per driver a magnitude well worth emphasizing. Furthermore, increased efforts should also be directed at increasing vehicle occupancy, which has dropped by 30% from That drop, by itself, increased the energy intensity of driving per occupant by about 30%. 12

18 References Boriboonsomsin, K. and Barth, M. (2009). Impacts of road grade on fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions evidenced by use of advanced navigation systems. Transportation Research Record, No. 2139, Edmunds (2005). We test the tips. What really saves gas? And how much? Available at: EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] (2011a). EPA fuel economy guide, Retrieved from EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] (2011b). Gas mileage tips Keeping your car in shape. Available at: EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] (2011c). Gas mileage tips Driving more efficiently. Available at: EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] (2011d). Many factors affect MPG. Available at: Facanha, C. (2000). Effects of congestion and road level of service on vehicle fuel economy. Transportation Research Board s 88th Annual Meeting, Paper Washington, D.C. National Academy of Sciences. FHWA [Federal Highway Administration] (2008). Highway Statistics Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation. FHWA [Federal Highway Administration] (2009). Highway Statistics Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation. Haworth, N. and Symmons, M. (2001). The relationship between fuel economy and safety outcomes (Report No. 188). Clayton, Australia: Monash University Accident Research Centre. LeBlanc, D. J., Sivak, M., and Bogard, S. (2010). Using naturalistic driving data to assess variations in fuel efficiency among individual drivers (Report UMTRI ). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. 13

19 Natural Resources Canada. (2009) Vehicle Survey, Summary Report. Ottawa, Canada: Office of Energy Efficiency, Energy Publications. Ogden, C. L., Fryar, C. D., Carroll, M. D., and Flegel, K. M. (2004). Mean body weight, height, and body mass index, United States Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics, No. 347, 1-8. RITA [Research and Innovative Technology Administration] (2011a). National transportation statistics; Table 4-20: Energy intensity of passenger modes. Available at: html/table_04_20.html. RITA [Research and Innovative Technology Administration] (2011b). National transportation statistics; Table 4-22M: Energy intensity of light duty vehicles and motorcycles. Available at: _statistics/html/table_04_22_m.html. Sivak, M. and Tsimhoni, O. (2009). Fuel efficiency of vehicles on U.S. roads: Energy Policy, 37, TRB [Transportation Research Board] (2000). Highway capacity manual Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. TRB [Transportation Research Board] (2006). Tires and passenger vehicle fuel economy (Special Report No. 286). Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. Wilbers, P. (1999). The new driving force: A new approach to promote energy efficient purchasing and driving behavior. In, Proceedings of EcoDriving Conference (pp ). Graz, Austria. 14

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